I had the great fortune to get to know Tara Ison when I was a student at the Antioch Los Angeles MFA program, where she taught. (I’ve written previously here about Tara’s work.) Tara’s classes and workshops were always compelling, as is her writing. Tara’s new novel, At The Hour Between Dog And Wolf is an incredibly nuanced and humanity-deepening book—told through the deceptively simple view of a teenaged girl, but containing the grace and texture of Virginia Wolf…for instance, page 62 begins a stunningly long passage of interiority while the protagonist is sewing, and four pages later we are gently reminded of the work (literally) in her hand with the following, “Or—this has never occurred to her before, the needle paused in the cloth—what if her mother didn’t go Underground at all? What if it was a lie?” This intrusion of the needle in the fabric exquisitely reminds us we are embodied, reading a story that is embodied…simply gorgeous. I didn’t write down a lot because I wanted to give over to the reading.
Tara’s novel contains a modern understanding of trauma and what makes a person do what (some would argue) they must, in order to survive. How trauma and necessity can shift an identity so fully that the twists of what is right and who we are ends up looking like light through a prism…anyway, here’s a passage ripped from context, but to illustrate how powerful, suspenseful, breathtaking is the text:
“Pray, keep the faith. God is with us. Everything will be fine.
But she still always looks out the door, first. There’s that old feeling of an end rushing at her, again, the threat of another, bigger end, the kind that drops from the sky or bursts into your room without knocking, or grabs the back of your head and twists. And though you clutch and squirm there’s nothing to hold onto, no matter how hard you pray you still feel flung through the air and to the ground somewhere else, where nothing and no one is the same, the same is what ended, is gone forever. But maybe if she looks first, she’ll see the end in time, marching up the road toward her. Maybe this time she’ll be able to take the right action, keep it from happening, shut and bolt the door closed. Maybe she’ll be able to keep it from coming in.”
What a fine treasure this book is, and a call through dark times toward understanding of what hatred can yield, and how we might better fight its harms.